An artist-decorator turns an outdated top floor into a luxurious master bedroom space flooded with natural light.
Heaven. I’m still pinching myself,” says Amy K., describing her spacious new master bedroom closet. That sentiment could extend to her new bedroom with an intimate sitting room tucked behind the fireplace, or to the elegant new white marble bath – all part of an 1100 square-foot-space attic space which she recently rebuilt as a stunning master bedroom suite in her 1889 St. Paul, Minnesota home.
Amy’s no novice when it comes to old-house redos. We showed her wonderful Heritage Range Kitchen with its show-stopping black Bertazzoni stove in June 2010 and photos of that kitchen have been pinned more than 1000 times! I’ve updating that post with two new images so I hope you won’t miss reading, or rereading, that on the link (just above).
Before moving to Shanghai, China, Amy was a studio artist and had worked in a furniture store. While overseas, she was asked to help decorate a colleague’s apartment which proved to be a challenge in China. Today, she’s parlayed that into her own referral-only decorating business which she describes as “sort of renting a sister with a good eye to make your house gorgeous.” No better place to show those skills than her own home, right?
The decision to reclaim the attic came “against much well-meaning advice – ‘Oh? Too many stairs! You’ll hate it!’ ” she recalls. But “my husband and I had our clothing scattered throughout different rooms and closets, including commandeering our teens’ closets, which wasn’t working! Many boxes and Rubbermaid bins. Anyone in an old house knows the situation. Our “master bath” was as far as possible from the bedroom. It seemed like a half-mile in the middle of the night.” Working with the same architect and neighbor who helped redo the kitchen, the project took seven months to complete and required a dumpster and access stairway in the front yard.
The bedroom [top and above], includes a custom wooden bed made in Shanghai. “One man, all hand planed. No metal hardware, anywhere. It fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. We love it. It is up there permanently and will have to be sawed up or sold with the house someday,” Amy explains, since it was brought in through the large hole in the wall before the windows were installed. The bench on the end of the bed was “a good deal on One King’s Lane,” she says. The velvet draperies are double-wides from Pottery Barn over linen sheers from Crate & Barrel.
This same area had been a sitting area facing a fireplace. The triple window was gracefully reframed. The fireplace was enlarged and reworked with a partition replacing the hulking wood overmantel.
The Vanguard leather chair, pulled up by the new fireplace, moved upstairs from the family room where it had been fading in the sun. The soft leather compliments the mix of blue, teal, turquoise and navy against pale gray walls and white woodwork. An architectural bookcase was built into the wall to house books, and Amy’s collection of Chinese blue and white pottery. Art work is her own.
Tucked behind the fireplace, a back-of-the-bedroom nook is dominated by a massive wood beam. An intimate spot at night, it has a TV and is “perfect for watching Project Runway and Chopped,” Amy says. There is also abundant natural light from the trio of tall windows.
Previously, the same window seemed dwarfed by the beam and was rendered useless by stairs leading to an attic loft.
In the master bath, marble reigns. That’s Vermont Montclair Danby Striato which, surprisingly, “barely etches and can be scrubbed with Comet,” Amy says. “I don’t want to have to baby any surfaces.” There was enough space below the dormer window for a tub with a view of the sky.
The bathroom replaced a kitchen. “We used the space as a big, ugly guest room – nobody but close family could stay up there.” The old master, downstairs, now has been repurposed as the guest room.
The spacious his-and-hers closet was sketched out but modifications were made by the carpenter to accommodate some of the house systems. The closet replaced a bedroom. On Amy’s end there is ample hanging space, handbag storage and catch-all basket bins. A shared island has six drawers including one for socks. “We Minnesotans have VAST sock collections,” Madame notes, adding “I’m originally from the West Coast so all those socks still make me laugh.” Those of us who live in cold climates can also share the chuckle.
Note: There’s even more of this amazing attic makover on the slideshow (below) along with a full range of before and after photos. To view photos individually, click on “thumbnails.”
(First and second photos: Christian Koch)